What happens when the union of a 6' 3" wife and a 6' 6" husband decide to have a child? A 5-Star is born. Talk about raised in a basketball-crazed family, both of Wiley's parents played basketball for Auburn. Vickie had an illustrious career, scoring 2,035 points and grabbing 1,006 rebounds, including two national championship game appearances in '88 and '89. Aubrey led the SEC in rebounding his senior year.
It appears that Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl has the inside track. However, Austin's recruitment is gaining momentum with the likes of Michigan State, North Carolina, Duke, and Kentucky starting to take notice. The kid with the size 17 shoe has received 10 offers, among them are Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi State,Texas A&M, Georgia, Florida, and Texas Tech.
The 247Sports Composite for the Class of 2017 ranks Wiley 9th nationally, 3rd at the center position, and No. 1 in Alabama. This youngster with the "7' 4" wingspan burst onto the scene his freshman year at Spain Park, averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Jaguars. He elevated his productivity the following season, averaging 19.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 4.0 blocks per game. And he was named the Birmingham News Player of the Year. In one game he recorded 21 rebounds.
The 16-year-old Wiley plays AAU ball in the 17-U Nike EYBL for the Alabama Challenge. He was only able to play five games this Spring in a limited role, but still managed to average 10.8 points in 15.4 minutes per game. He suffered a partially torn patella tendon in his left knee. On May 7 he had successful surgery and is on the road to recovery. After rehabilitation, he is expected to return to the court in about two to three months.
Wiley will be unable to play this month for the Junior USA 16-U Team, but two of his AAU teammates, 6' 10" Wendell Carter Jr. and 6' 9" Alex Reese, will play. The three were roommates during the trials back in October. All three would like to play together in college. And three schools have picked up on that in Auburn, Georgia, and Kansas State. Now that would be a package deal.
Wiley has a high ceiling as he will only keep getting bigger and stronger. Doctors project him to be a seven-footer. He is a monster in the paint with tremendous rebounding and shot blocking skills. He runs the floor well for a post player and is a great trigger on the fast break. He needs to develop his left-hand, but his overall game is fundamentally sound. In putting together any team, Wiley would be the person to build around.
Check out his video highlights playing for Spain Park HS (Birmingham, AL). Paint Wiley a Birmingham.
June 15 is the contact date for coaches and Michigan State should offer this prize prospect. And there are three good reasons why the big fellow should choose the Spartans over Auburn. Here they are...
1. Michigan State is a big-time program with a winning tradition
The Spartans have appeared in 29 NCAA Tournaments, including 18 straight under Izzo. Auburn has been invited to the Big Dance a total of eight times. The last time the Tigers made it was 2003. Michigan State has advanced to nine Final Fours with two national championships and a runner-up finish in 2009. Auburn has never made it to the Final Four. In fact, Auburn's best showing came in 1986 advancing to the Elite Eight. The Spartans own 13 regular season Big Ten titles and four conference tournament titles compared to Auburn's three SEC titles and the one conference tournament title in 1985.
Michigan State as well as other Big Ten teams are consistently ranked in the Final Top 25 Polls. The past four seasons, Big Ten teams have appeared in the rankings a total of 16 times, including the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons with five teams. Auburn has never come close. SEC teams have appeared eight times during the same span. And if it wasn't for Kentucky, that number would be reduced to four ranking appearances.
In terms of exposure, and kids love the attention, Michigan State games are televised about as often as the evening news. This past season, the Spartans appeared on the tube for 36 games (BTN, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, CBS, TBS, Tru TV). Heck, they played 38 games. The only time Auburn may be seen on television is when the Tigers play Kentucky twice a year. Another added bonus is attendance. The Breslin Center seats 14,797 fans. Auburn Arena holds 9,600 people, when they all show up.
In a nutshell, there really isn't any comparison. Michigan State is a basketball factory and Auburn is a football factory.
2. Associate Head Coach Dwayne Stevens
Stevens has been a part of the Michigan State's staff for 12 years, nine as an assistant and three as an associate head coach. His many duties include player development, recruiting, and scouting. He emerged as one of the Top 25 Recruiters in the nation in 2006 by Rivals. It may take some magic (no pun intended) to land big fish Austin Wiley.
Tom Izzo has commented several times how valuable Stevens is to the program, especially in terms of the development of their bigs and State's identity as a team committed to rebounding. The Spartans lead the nation in rebounding in 2009 and 2010 and have paced the Big Ten seven of Stevens' 12 seasons.
Stevens has a proven track record when it comes to player development. Branden Dawson showed steady improvement from his freshman to senior seasons. As a freshman, he averaged 8.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game with 26 blocks. His final season totals were 12.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game with 58 blocked shots.
Two of his most successful projects have been Draymond Green and Adreian Payne, both current NBAers. To give you an idea what a tremendous job Stevens did with Payne, let me tell a story. I watched Adreian play his senior year in the OHSAA Division III regional finals against Fort Loramie (OH). I was covering the game that night for JJ Huddle. Dayton Jefferson was a heavy favorite with Payne and Cody Lattimore (Denver Broncos). This 6' 5" kid from Loramie named Mark Frilling absolutely posterized Payne. I thought after the game, "I can't believe Izzo recruited this kid."
3. The NBA Draft
Every top recruit dreams of playing in the NBA. Wiley is no exception. Michigan State can help make it a reality. A grand total of 41 former Spartans have landed in the NBA. Auburn has produced 18 players. Since Tom Izzo took over 20 years ago, 15 players joined the NBA ranks, including eight current players. Since Dwayne Stevens joined the staff 12 years ago, eight players made the NBA, including five current players.
The numbers speak volumes to Austin Wiley. And if he were to put Michigan State in one hand and Auburn in the other, which would weigh more?